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15  WEST  16th  STREET 
NEW  YORK,  N.  Y.,  1C011 


WE  BEREAVED 


Digitized  by  the  Internet  Archive 
in  2014 


https://archive.org/details/webereavedOOhele 


WE  BEREAVED 

By 

HELEN  KELLER 

n 


LESLIE  FULENWIDER,  INC. 
PUBLISHERS  NEW  YORK 


Copyright,  1929,  by 
Leslie  Fulenwider,  Inc. 


PRINTED  IN  THE  UNITED  STATES  OF  AMERICA 


Suffering  and  death  are  the 
great  teachers  of  mankind. 


PREFACE 


I  have  received  many  letters  from  peo- 
ple stricken  with  grief,  and  I  have  always 
felt  poignantly  my  helplessness  before 
their  sorrow.  My  heart  yearns  to  speak  the 
word  that  would  soothe  their  anguish, 
but  how  futile  are  words  in  the  ears  of 
those  who  mourn. 

I  can  only  take  their  hands  in  mine  and 
pray  that  the  love  and  sympathy  in  my 
heart  may  overflow  into  theirs.  I  too  have 
loved  and  lost,  I  too  must  often  fight  hard 
to  keep  a  steadfast  faith.  When  I  fail  to 
hear  the  Divine  Voice,  grief  overwhelms 
me,  my  faith  wavers,  but  I  must  not  let  it 
go  for  without  faith  there  would  be  no 
light  in  all  the  world. 

Faith  lifts  up  shining  arms  and  points 
to  a  happier  world  where  our  loved  ones 
[vii] 


PREFACE 

await  us.  Faith  in  immortality  broadens 
the  boundaries  of  our  endeavors  and 
makes  us  feel  that  we  have  a  part  in  God's 
plan  of  good.  It  is  a  staff  in  our  gropings, 
a  benign  cup  of  encouragement. 

When  all  about  us  is  dark  we  have  it 
in  our  power  to  lift  on  high  the  torch  of 
faith  whose  beams  shall  sustain  us  until 
the  joy  of  perfect  light  dawns  upon  our 
mortal  day. 

Helen  Keller. 

Forest  Hilts, 
New  York. 


[  viii  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 


We  bereaved  are  not  alone.  We  belong 
to  the  largest  company  in  all  the  world — 
the  company  of  those  who  have  known 
suffering.  When  it  seems  that  our  sorrow 
is  too  great  to  be  borne,  let  us  think  of  the 
great  family  of  the  heavy-hearted  into 
which  our  grief  has  given  us  entrance, 
and,  inevitably,  we  will  feel  about  us  their 
arms,  their  sympathy,  their  under- 
standing. 

#        #  # 

Believe,  when  you  are  most  unhappy, 
that  there  is  something  for  you  to  do  in 
the  world.  So  long  as  you  can  sweeten  an- 
other's pain,  life  is  not  in  vain. 

[  1  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

What  we  have  once  enjoyed  we  can 
never  lose.  A  sunset,  a  mountain  bathed 
in  moonlight,  the  ocean  in  calm  and  in 
storm — we  see  these,  love  their  beauty, 
hold  the  vision  to  our  hearts.  All  that  we 
love  deeply  becomes  a  part  of  us.  Our  be- 
loved ones  are  no  more  lost  to  us  when 
they  die  than  if  they  were  still  laughing 
and  loving  and  working  and  playing  at 
our  side.  Truly,  life  is  overlord  of  Death 
and  Love  can  never  lose  its  own. 

#        #  # 

Vainly  the  tortured  soul  gropes  in 
darkness  for  a  Reason.  Bereavement  has 
come;  life  is  lonely  and  bitter,  and  almost 
too  terrible  to  be  endured.  Abraham  Lin- 
coln, when  his  little  son  died  in  his  arms, 
said:  "The  Almighty  has  His  own  pur- 
poses/' 

[  2  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"Those  who  struggle  can  never  learn 
to  float;  they  must  relinquish  themselves 
utterly  to  the  mercy  of  the  water,  relax 
every  muscle,  be  trustful  of  the  element  to 
which  they  give  themselves/'  Thus  said 
a  teacher  of  swimming  to  his  pupils*  It  is 
so  with  Eternal  Love.  In  times  of  trouble 
if  we  resist  and  beat  against  the  waves  of 
misfortune  we  sink  and  are  swallowed  up 
in  darkness  unutterable.  But  if  we  trust, 
and  if  we  relinquish  our  own  will,  and 
yield  to  the  Divine  will,  then  we  find  that 
we  are  afloat  on  a  buoyant  sea  of  peace 
and  under  us  are  the  everlasting  arms* 


#        #  # 


New  sorrows  teach  new  courage.  Time 
makes  the  bitterest  pain  to  "blossom  like 
Aaron's  rod  with  flowers/' 
[3] 


WE  BEREAVED 

It  is  possible  to  diminish  suffering  by 
resolutely  drawing  sweetness  from  the 
memory  of  past  happiness.  Montaigne 
said:  "I  have  a  peculiar  method  of  my 
own;  I  pass  over  my  time  when  it  is  ill 
and  uneasy,  but  when  it  is  good  I  shall 
not  pass  it  over/'  Life  would  be  happier 
for  all  of  us  if  we  hurried  over  the  ill 
stretches  and  lingered  long  upon  the  good. 

#        #  * 

Death  comes  to  those  we  love,  and  it 
seems  impossible  that  in  the  face  of  our 
dark  grief,  the  sun  should  shine,  birds 
should  sing,  men  and  women  should  go 
on  laughing  and  living,  and  treading  all 
the  multitudinous  sunny  paths  of  normal 
life.  But,  before  grief  came  upon  us,  we 
lived  and  laughed  while  others  sorrowed, 
and  hard  as  it  is  to  believe,  we  shall  live 
and  laugh  again.  For  that  is  the  way  of 
life. 

[4] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"Tomorrow!"  What  possibilities  there 
are  in  that  word.  No  matter  how  discour- 
aging today,  how  gloomy  with  dark 
clouds,  with  terrors  and  illness  and  death, 
there's  always  Tomorrow,  with  its 
promise  of  better  things.  Let  us  think  then 
of  Death  as  but  one  more  tomorrow,  filled 
with  infinite  promise  and  fulfillment. 

#        #  # 

On  these  chill  autumn  days  we  wander 
along  the  highroads  and  byways,  or 
through  the  God-painted  forests.  We  re- 
turn at  last,  cold  and  weary,  to  our  own 
home,  and  find  warmth  and  comfort  be- 
fore a  blazing  fire  on  our  own  hearth.  So 
in  life,  we  wander  until  we  are  cold  and 
weary,  and  at  last  find  warmth  and  rest 
before  the  peacefully  glowing  flame  of 
Eternity,  for:  Death  is  the  hearthstone  of 
Life. 

[5] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Diogenes  tells  us  that  when  Zeno  was 
asked  what  a  friend  was,  he  answered: 
"Another  V*  Truly,  a  friend  is  another 
self.  When  he  dies,  it  seems  that  we  have 
died  as  well,  but,  conversely,  the  friend 
who  is  our  "other  I"  still  lives  in  us,  and 
in  living  nobly  we  are  continuing  his  life 
here. 

#        #  # 


It  is  necessary  for  the  endurableness  of 
life  that  we  should  believe  that  the  un- 
certainty, the  darkness  in  which  we  are 
struggling,  shall  one  day  be  illumined 
by  the  light  of  solution;  and  even  now 
we  possess  signs  and  traces  of  the  knowl- 
edge which  shall  come  when  we  see  that 
Light  face  to  face. 

[6] 


WE  BEREAVED 

In  our  excess  of  grief  and  bitterness,  we 
feel  that  the  hand  of  God  is  against  us* 
We  look  round  the  happy  circle  of  our 
friends  and  it  seems  to  us  that  we  are  the 
only  ones  bereaved;  the  only  ones  to 
whom  has  come  this  terrible  emptiness, 
this  dark  void  of  loneliness.  When  this 
thought  overwhelms  us,  it  is  well  to  re- 
member that  we  are  not  alone  in  our 
sorrow,  that 

4  'There  is  no  flock,  however  watched  and 
tended, 
But  one  dead  lamb  is  there. 
There  is  no  fireside,  howsoe'r  defended, 
But  has  one  vacant  chair/' 

*        *  * 

In  the  Valley  of  the  Shadow  God's 
Love  still  lights  the  way.  Though  my  eyes 
be  blind  with  tears,  I  clasp  God's  guiding 
Hand,  knowing  that  He  is  Lord  of  the 
night  as  of  the  day. 

[7] 


WE  BEREAVED 

In  the  first  dark  hours  of  our  grief  there 
is  no  comfort  in  all  the  world  for  us*  The 
anxious  efforts  of  our  friends  to  console 
us  seem  an  intrusion,  "Leave  us  alone," 
we  cry  in  our  hearts;  "leave  us  alone  with 
our  sorrow.  That  is  the  only  precious 
thing  left  to  us/'  But  when  our  friends 
depart  how  quickly  we  change,  how  we 
creep  to  the  side  of  some  trusted  loved  one 
and  reach  out  wistful  hands  for  affection 
and  understanding.  Life  is  like  that.  Be- 
reaved though  we  are,  we  are  not  ghosts, 
but  living,  breathing  human  beings,  vi- 
brant and  eager  for  contact  with  our  kind. 
And  that  is  as  it  should  be.  God  has  taken 
away  the  beloved  and  left  us  here  for  some 
purpose.  There  is  work  to  be  done  and 
people  to  be  loved  and  helped.  No  normal 
human  being  can  live  with  shadows. 

#        #  # 

It  is  necessary  to  pass  through  deep 
waters  to  reach  the  Shore  of  Fulfillment. 


[8] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"Our  friend  and  we  were  invited 
abroad  on  a  party  of  pleasure,  which  is  to 
last  forever.  His  chair  was  ready  first,  and 
he  has  gone  before  us.  We  could  not  all 
conveniently  start  together;  and  why 
should  you  and  I  be  grieved  at  this,  since 
we  are  soon  to  follow,  and  know  where 
to  find  him."  Benjamin  Franklin  wrote 
these  words  concerning  death,  and  they 
seem  to  me  very  beautifuL 

#        *  * 

We  invite  needless  suffering  when  we 
entertain  an  exaggerated  idea  of  our  own 
suffering.  Why  should  we  be  spared  the 
chastening  rod  which  all  mortals  pass 
under?  Instead  of  comparing  our  lot  with 
that  of  those  who  are  more  fortunate  than 
we  are,  we  should  compare  it  with  the  lot 
of  the  great  majority  of  our  fellowmen. 
It  then  appears  that  we  are  among  the 
privileged. 

[9] 


WE  BEREAVED 

A  little  boat  with  sails  like  snowy 
wings  sailed  out  of  the  harbor.  The  sea 
was  gray  and  menacing,  the  sky  was 
darkened  by  threatening  clouds.  "It  will 
be  an  evil  day/'  said  those  who  beheld 
the  little  ship  and  its  going.  "See  how 
dark  it  is!"  But  the  little  ship  sailed  on, 
and  there,  in  the  open  sea,  suddenly  it 
passed  the  region  of  storm,  and  the  sun 
beamed  brightly  upon  its  sails,  turning 
them  to  silver.  And  all  about  the  little 
ship  flowed  waters  that  were  blue  and 
gold,  with  dancing  lights.  So  the  little 
spirit  which  departs  in  darkness  amid 
sighs  and  tears  and  regrettings,  finds, 
despite  all  the  terrors  of  those  who  stay 
behind,  its  haven  of  sunshine  and  joy* 

#        #  # 

It  is  not  so  wretched  to  suffer  loss  as 
not  to  be  capable  of  enduring  it. 
[  10] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Our  beloved  ones  have  not  "gone  to  a 
far  country/'  it  is  only  the  veil  of  sense 
that  separates  them  from  us,  and  even  that 
veil  grows  thin  when  our  thoughts  reach 
out  to  them. 

*        *  * 

"There's  so  little  I  can  say/'  This  is 
often  said  in  apology  by  friends.  If  they 
but  knew  that  any  words — the  most  beau- 
tiful— are  an  intrusion  at  such  a  time,  and 
that  the  truest  sympathy  comes  with  the 
warm  close  handclasp. 

%        #  # 

He  who  travels  the  hazardous  road  of 
misfortune  courageously,  leaves  it  strewn 
with  sweet  flowers  of  consolation  for 
others. 

tin 


WE  BEREAVED 

When  I  was  a  young  girl  at  college  I 
wrote  my  creed  thus:  "I  believe  in  God,  I 
believe  in  Man,  I  believe  in  the  power  of 
the  spirit,  I  believe  it  is  a  sacred  duty  to 
encourage  ourselves  and  others;  to  hold 
the  tongue  from  any  unhappy  word 
against  God's  world,  because  no  man  has 
any  right  to  complain  of  a  universe  which 
God  made  good,  and  which  thousands  of 
men  have  striven  to  keep  good/'  It  is 
many  years  since  I  wrote  these  words,  and 
I  have  suffered  many  a  bereavement  and 
many  a  sorrow,  but  I  see  no  reason  to 
change  my  creed.  Any  human  being  who 
believes  in  God,  in  Man,  and  in  the  spirit 
is  fundamentally,  I  think,  an  optimist.  No 
matter  what  pain  comes  to  him,  he  knows 
that  good  is  the  dominant  power  of  the 
universe  and  feels  himself  surrounded  by 
it  and  by  God's  love* 


[12] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"What  shall  I  do  with  all  the  hours  and 
days  that  must  be  lived  ere  I  see  thy  face 
again V  So  we  mourn  in  our  hearts  as  the 
empty  hours,  days,  and  years  stretch 
before  us  darkly.  But  in  the  very  nature 
of  things  life  is  not  desolate.  We  must 
eat  and  sleep  and  find  for  ourselves  a 
living.  Surely  and  inevitably  life  makes 
its  demands  upon  us.  No  man  is  left  alone 
with  his  grief  for  long.  Gradually  the 
little  joys  come  creeping  in,  and  though 
the  lost  dear  one  is  not  forgotten,  the  days 
and  years  until  he  is  once  more  found  are 
never  empty,  but  vital  and  full  of  en- 
deavor* 

*        *  # 

Is  there  not  comfort  for  us  in  the 
thought  that  our  departed  dear  ones  have 
entered  a  broader  field  of  usefulness  than 
was  possible  for  them  here  on  earth? 
[  13  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Life  without  faith  is  uneasy,  timorous, 
and  wholly  spent  in  running  away  from 
misfortunes  which  are  in  the  nature  of 
things  inescapable. 

*  *  * 

My  friend  has  long  since  gone  into  the 
Light;  but  his  presence,  loved  and  fa- 
miliar, walks  noiseless  by  my  side,  his 
guiding  hand  in  mine. 

#  #  # 

There  is  a  Christmas  story  of  a  be- 
reaved mother  whose  tears  fell  so  long, 
they  dimmed  the  candle  of  joy  her  little 
one  held  in  his  hand.  Let  us  resolve  that 
our  grief  shall  not  cast  a  shadow  upon  the 
happiness  of  our  loved  ones* 
[  H  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Maria  Mitchell,  America's  first  woman 
astronomer,  wrote  in  her  diary  on  De- 
cember 26,  1854:  "We  know  a  few  things 
which  were  once  hidden,  and  being  known 
they  seem  easy,  but  there  are  the  flashing 
of  the  Northern  Lights;  there  are  the  star- 
tling comets  whose  use  is  all  unknown; 
there  are  the  bright  and  flickering  variable 
stars,  and  the  meteoric  showers — for  all  of 
these  the  reasons  are  as  clear  as  for  the  suc- 
cession of  day  and  night;  they  lie  just  be- 
yond the  daily  mist  of  our  minds,  but  our 
eyes  have  not  yet  pierced  through  it."  So 
I  think  it  is  with  pain  and  separation.  The 
reasons  for  them  are  as  clear  as  the  reasons 
for  the  succession  of  day  and  night,  but 
our  spiritual  eyes  have  not  yet  pierced  the 
mist  which  is  upon  us. 

#        #  # 

The  more  we  dwell  on  the  happy  state 
of  our  dear  departed  ones,  the  closer  we 
shall  be  to  them. 

[  15] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Sometimes  it  is  well  not  to  think.  The 
mind  mills  over  and  over  again  its  eternal 
problems  of  Why  and  When  and  Where. 
"Why"  am  I  made  thus  to  suffer? 
"When"  shall  I  see  my  dear  one  again? 
"Where"  is  he,  now  that  he  is  lost  to  me? 
It  is  well  to  remember  at  such  a  time  with 
Cardinal  Newman:  "It  is  thy  very  energy 
of  thought  which  keeps  thee  from  thy 
God."  Cease  thinking,  questioning,  won- 
dering; relax  on  the  bosom  of  faith,  and 
faith  will  not  betray  you* 


*        #  * 


It  is  because  our  loved  ones  are  in  the 
Sun,  and  we  in  the  shadow,  that  we  do 
not  see  each  other. 

[16] 


WE  BEREAVED 

If  your  faith  burns  strong  and  bright, 
others  will  light  their  candle  at  it. 

#        #  # 

All  the  aeons  and  aeons  of  time  before 
we  were  born,  before  the  spirit  awoke  to 
its  present  consciousness — where  were  we 
then?  All  the  aeons  and  aeons  of  time  after 
we  are  dead,  after  the  spirit  has  sunk  again 
to  sleep  from  its  present  consciousness, 
where  then  shall  we  be?  Vain  questions; 
vain  wondering.  But  if  the  spirit  is  eternal, 
we  have  no  more  reason  to  dread  the  fu- 
ture of  the  spirit  than  to  shudder  at  its 
past.  Rather,  it  is  better  to  consider  this, 
our  life,  merely  as  "a  gleam  of  time  be- 
tween two  Eternities/'  and  to  believe  that 
most  of  the  truth,  most  of  the  beauty, 
most  of  the  real  splendor  and  fulfillment 
lies  rather  in  those  eternities  than  in  the 
here-and-now. 

[  17] 


WE  BEREAVED 

There  is  beauty  in  Benjamin  Franklin's 
self -written  epitaph.  Here  it  is: 

"The  body  of  Benjamin  Franklin, 
Printer,  (like  the  cover  of  an  old  book,  its 
contents  torn  out  and  stripped  of  its  let- 
tering and  gilding)  lies  here,  food  for 
worms.  Yet  the  work  itself  shall  not  be 
lost,  for  it  will  (as  he  believes)  appear 
once  more  in  a  new  and  more  beautiful 
Edition,  corrected  and  amended  by  the 
Author/' 

#        #  # 

They  tell  me  that  a  flash  of  lightning 
reveals  everything  within  the  range  of 
vision  clearly  for  an  instant  Death  is  the 
penetrating  flash  that  illumines  the  spirit- 
world  which  material  existence  veils  from 
us  in  our  happier  hours, 
[18] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"God  is,  and  all  is  well/*  If  only  we 
could  —  and  would  —  remember  this  in 
time  of  sorrow  and  bereavement,  we 
would  find  the  peace  that  passeth  under- 
standing. 

#        *  # 


Surely  we  would  not  weep  if  some  be- 
loved friend  had  the  good  fortune  to  move 
from  a  humble  and  uncomfortable  house 
to  a  mansion  into  which  the  sunlight 
streamed,  and  whose  grounds  are  a  never- 
ending  maze  of  beauty  and  wonder  and 
delight*  We  would  say  that  that  was  a  for- 
tunate friend,  and,  a  bit  wistfully,  we 
would  look  forward  to  the  time  when  we 
too  might  leave  the  burden  of  our  daily 
tasks  and  join  him  in  his  house  of  beauty 
and  light* 

[19] 


WE  BEREAVED 

I  am  blind  and  have  never  seen  a  rain- 
bow, but  I  have  been  told  of  its  beauty. 
I  know  that  its  beauty  is  always  broken 
and  incomplete.  Never  does  it  stretch 
across  the  heavens  in  full  perfection.  So 
it  is  with  all  things  as  we  know  them  here 
below.  Life  itself  is  as  imperfect  and 
broken  for  everyone  of  us  as  the  span  of 
a  rainbow.  Not  until  we  have  taken  the 
step  from  life  into  Eternity,  shall  we  un- 
derstand the  meaning  of  Browning's 
words:  "On  the  earth,  the  broken  arc; 
in  heaven,  a  perfect  round/' 

#        #  # 

Remember  that  in  the  Country  where 
your  loved  ones  have  gone,  the  things  that 
were  impossible  here  become  glorious 
realities. 

[20] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Back  in  the  seventeenth  century, 
Thomas  Fuller  wrote:  "He  was  one  of 
lean  body  and  visage,  as  if  his  eager  soul, 
biting  for  anger  at  the  clog  of  his  body, 
desired  to  fret  a  passage  through  it/'  And 
so  it  is  with  us.  We  mourn,  when  they  are 
gone,  for  that  lost  "clog  of  a  body"  as 
though  that  were  the  great,  the  vital,  the 
beautiful  thing,  forgetting  that  the  eager 
soul  liberated  now,  has  come  into  its  own 
as  gloriously  as  a  man  long  shackled  in  a 
prison  cell,  when  once  again  he  walks 
free  in  God's  glorious  sunshine. 

•  * 


As  the  fruit  is  the  essence  of  the  tree,  so 
sympathy  is  the  essence  distilled  from 
pain. 

[21  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

In  the  presence  of  suffering  and  death 
we  cry  in  the  bitterness  of  our  hearts, 
"Why  cannot  we  cast  it  out?"  Listen,  ye 
that  mourn,  and  ye  shall  hear  the  wonder- 
ful answer  from  Matthew  17:20:  "Be- 
cause of  your  unbelief:  for  verily  I  say 
unto  you,  if  ye  have  faith  as  a  grain  of 
mustard  seed,  ye  shall  say  unto  this  moun- 
tain, Remove  hence  to  yonder  place;  and 
it  shall  remove;  and  nothing  shall  be  im- 
possible unto  you/' 


*        *  * 


Sorrow  is  like  the  quieting  caress  of  the 
dark.  It  veils  the  too  glaring  light  of  ma- 
terial day,  and  lets  our  minds  behold  the 
spiritual  stars  the  sun  hid  from  us. 
[22] 


WE  BEREAVED 

When  one  door  of  happiness  closes,  an- 
other opens;  but  often  we  look  so  long 
at  the  closed  door  that  we  do  not  see  the 
one  which  has  been  opened  for  us* 

#        #  # 


This  from  Plutarch:  "Diogenes,  the 
cynic,  when,  a  little  before  death,  he  fell 
into  a  slumber,  and  his  physician  rousing 
him  out  of  it  asking  whether  anything 
ailed  him,  answered:  'Nothing,  sir;  only 
one  brother  anticipates  another:  Sleep 
before  Death/  "  It  is  well  to  look  upon 
Death  in  this  friendly,  everyday  way. 
Sleep  we  welcome  every  night,  knowing 
from  experience  that  there  is  nothing  to 
fear.  Then  why  should  we  fear  the  com- 
ing of  our  other  Brother — Death? 
[  23  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

A  father,  who  had  lost  a  beloved  child, 
could  not  bear  the  companionship  of  his 
fellowmen,  and  turned  to  wood  and  field 
for  solace  accompanied  only  by  his  dog. 
His  friends  attempted  to  dissuade  him 
from  this  course,  but  they  were  wrong. 
Gradually  healing  came  to  his  spirit, 
breathed  to  him  in  silent  understanding 
of  trees,  of  grass,  of  sky,  of  his  faithful 
canine  friend.  Thus  we  are  taught  that 
each  of  us  who  are  in  pain  and  sorrow 
must  seek  consolation  after  his  own  man- 
ner, and  seeking,  shall  find  it. 

#        #  # 


Death  cannot  separate  those  who  truly 
love.  Each  lives  in  the  other  s  mind  and 
speech. 

[24] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"It  lies  around  us  like  a  cloud, 
A  world  we  do  not  see; 
Yet  the  sweet  closing  of  an  eye, 
May  bring  us  there  to  be/' 

Harriet  Beecher  Stowe,  author  of 
"Uncle  Tom's  Cabin/'  had  a  beautiful 
faith  in  the  after-life.  She  wrote  the  above 
lines  and  believed  them.  A  sweet  sincerity, 
a  child-like  belief,  rings  in  every  word. 


*        #  # 


Earth-life  cannot  appease  the  soul's 
hunger.  It  is  Death  that  flings  wide  the 
portals  of  eternal  life.  Released  by  death, 
the  soul  sheds  its  drab  covering  to  don  the 
radiant  robe  of  immortality. 

[  25  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Never  should  the  evening  of  life,  any 
more  than  the  evening  of  a  single  day, 
be  thought  of  with  fear.  For  evening  is  a 
time  for  home-coming,  and  of  peace.  We 
should  say,  as  Tagore  said:  "The  evening 
sky  to  me  is  like  a  window,  and  a  lighted 
lamp,  and  a  waiting  behind  it."  "A 
lighted  lamp  and  a  waiting  behind  it" — 
there  is  a  comforting,  a  beautiful  certainty 
and  serenity  in  those  words. 

#        #  # 

There  are  moments  when  the  veil  be- 
tween us  and  the  spiritual  world  lifts,  and 
we  behold  our  Heavenly  home  in  sudden 
light.  The  open  door,  the  smiling  faces 
of  our  dear  ones,  birds  twittering  in  the 
trees,  the  sweet  keen  smell  of  grass  and 
flowers,  the  sound  of  happy  voices — all 
yield  their  delight  once  more. 

[26] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"Bon  voyage/'  call  those  who  stay  be- 
hind, to  their  friends  who  are  departing 
for  foreign  lands.  Cheerfully  they  face  the 
separation  as  the  water  widens  between 
them  and  those  they  love.  Why  can  it 
not  be  just  so  when  those  whom  we  love 
have  gone  upon  that  last  long  voyage  of 
death?  The  answer  will  be:  "Because  this 
is  a  parting  for  all  eternity.  There  is  no 
returning  from  the  country  to  which  these 
lost  dear  ones  have  turned  their  faces/' 
Only  those  who  have  faith  know  the 
truth:  "for  those  who  live  with  God  there 
is  no  last  meeting/' 

*        *  * 

I  believe  in  the  goodness  of  life,  in  the 
recreative  power  of  the  spirit,  in  the  en- 
nobling possibilities  of  suffering. 
[27] 


WE  BEREAVED 

It  is  an  encouraging  thought  that  how- 
ever difficult  life  may  be,  we  are  not  living 
it  alone,  that  above  and  beneath  and 
around  us  are  the  resources  of  the  Eternal 
Spirit* 

#        #  # 


"Drawing  near  her  death,  she  sent  most 
pious  thoughts  as  harbingers  to  heaven; 
and  her  soul  saw  a  glimpse  of  happiness 
through  the  chinks  of  her  sickness-broken 
body/'  So  said  Thomas  Fuller  in  his  "Life 
of  Monica/'  Is  it  not  selfish  and  cruel  to 
want  to  keep  with  us  those  who  suffer? 
For,  after  all,  their  worn  bodies  are  but 
as  prison  cells,  through  which  they  see 
wistfully  and  longingly,  as  did  Monica, 
"a  glimpse  of  happiness/' 
[  28  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

It  is  a  day  bright  with  sunshine.  Then, 
from  somewhere,  unexpected,  comes  a  veil 
of  mist  and  then  another,  until  the  face 
of  the  sun  is  hid  from  us,  and  all  is  dark 
before  our  eyes.  Yet  we  never  doubt  for 
a  moment  the  sun  is  still  there.  Some  poet 
has  said  that  Life  itself  is  "A  wisp  of  fog 
between  us  and  the  sun/*  I  think  that  is 
true;  I  think  that  we — that  the  spirit-part 
of  us — -is  eternal,  that  the  Sun  of  true  love 
and  happiness  is  eternal,  and  that  life, 
with  its  hurry,  its  bustle,  its  materialism, 
comes  between  us  and  the  Sun,  like  a  wisp 
of  fog,  a  veiling  cloud* 

#        #  # 

Death  is  not  the  end.  "In  our  embers  is 
something  that  doth  live  that  nature  yet 
remembers/' 

[29] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Experiencing  a  great  sorrow  is  like  en- 
tering a  cave.  We  are  overwhelmed  by  the 
darkness,  the  loneliness,  the  homesickness. 
Sad  thoughts,  like  bats,  flutter  about  us  in 
the  gloom.  We  feel  that  there  is  no  escape 
from  the  prison-house  of  pain.  But  God  in 
His  Loving-kindness  has  set  on  the  invis- 
ible wall  the  Lamp  of  Faith — whose 
beams  shall  guide  us  back  to  the  sunlit 
world  where  work  and  friends  and  service 
await  us. 

*        *  # 


"From  the  voiceless  lips  of  the  unreply- 
ing  dead  there  comes  no  word,  but  in  the 
night  of  Death,  Hope  sees  a  star  and  lis- 
tening love  can  hear  the  rustling  of  a 
wing/'  Thus  spoke  Robert  G.  Ingersoll, 
the  agnostic,  at  his  brother's  grave. 
[  30  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

A  brave  faith  is  the  only  bridge  over 
which  the  feet  of  our  loved  ones  may 
cross  to  us* 

*        *  * 


Robbed  of  joy,  of  courage,  of  the  very 
desire  to  live,  the  newly-bereaved  fre- 
quently avoids  companionship,  feeling 
himself  so  limp  with  misery  and  so  empty 
of  vitality  that  he  is  ill  suited  for  human 
contacts-  And  yet  no  one  is  so  bereaved, 
so  miserable,  that  he  cannot  find  someone 
else  to  succor,  someone  who  needs  friend- 
ship, understanding,  and  courage  more 
than  he.  The  unselfish  effort  to  bring 
cheer  to  others  will  be  the  beginning  of  a 
happier  life  for  ourselves. 

[31] 


WE  BEREAVED 

'Tear/*  it  has  been  said,  "can  only  be 
cured  by  vision/'  Especially  is  this  true 
of  the  fear  of  death.  We  fear  death  for 
ourselves  and  for  those  who  are  dear  to 
us.  Could  we  but  trust  to  that  Inner 
Vision  which  is  of  the  spirit,  we  would 
know  that  there  is  nothing  to  fear — that 
Eternal  goodness  and  love  enfolds  us  in 
Death  as  in  Life. 


*        *  * 


We  think  too  much  of  the  darkness 
of  night  and  too  little  of  the  stars  that 
shine  in  it.  So  with  Death;  we  think  too 
much  of  its  blackness,  and  too  little  of 
the  bright  star  of  Immortality  which  robs 
it  of  its  terrors* 

[32] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Often  the  thoughts  of  great  men  run 
parallel.  Robert  Louis  Stevenson  says: 
"To  believe  in  immortality  is  one  thing, 
but  it  is  first  needful  to  believe  in  life/' 
And  Henry  Van  Dyke  says:  "There  is 
only  one  way  to  get  ready  for  immortal- 
ity, and  that  is  to  love  this  life,  and  live 
it  as  bravely  and  faithfully  and  cheerfully 
as  we  can/'  We  should  not  mourn  for 
those  who  have  lived  nobly,  but  should 
look  upon  their  having  thus  lived  as  the 
most  splendid  and  beautiful  Preparation 
for  the  Life  into  which  they  have  now 
entered. 

•        *  * 

Often  the  death  of  a  beloved  friend 
educates  us.  The  only  way  to  match  our 
strength  with  Death  is  to  believe  that  life 
is  eternal. 

[33] 


WE  BEREAVED 

''Everybody's  lonesome/'*  That  was  the 
title  of  a  story  once  read  to  me.  How  true 
it  is!  Everyone,  no  matter  how  surrounded 
by  friends  and  loved  ones,  has  periods  of 
loneliness;  loneliness  for  he  knows  not 
what.  We,  the  living,  should  not  think  of 
the  dead  as  lonely  because  if  they  could 
speak  to  us,  they  would  say:  "Do  not 
weep  for  me,  Earth  was  not  my  true  coun- 
try, I  was  an  alien  there;  I  am  now  at 
home  where  everyone  comes  in  his  turn/' 

#        #  # 

Life  is  everlasting,  and  the  living  spirit 
moves  always  upward  toward  the  road 
to  perfection.  Life  on  earth  is  only  one 
phase  of  the  universal  life.  Then  why  are 
we  terrified  by  Death  which  is  only  a 
milepost  on  the  journey  toward  perfect 
and  eternal  life? 

[34] 


WE  BEREAVED 

"And  God  shall  wipe  away  all  tears 
from  their  eyes;  and  there  shall  be  no 
more  death,  neither  sorrow,  nor  crying, 
neither  shall  there  be  any  more  pain,  for 
the  former  things  are  passed  away/'  In 
Revelation  21:4  come  these  words,  and  to 
the  lonely  and  bereft  they  are  as  cool  rain 
falling  on  parched  flowers. 

#         #  # 

They  are  wise  who  perceive  that  Spirit 
is  stronger  than  Material  force— thought 
rules  the  world.  Confronted  by  the  seem- 
ing fact  of  material  death  we  can  learn  to 
see  that  the  surviving  spirit  is  stronger 
than  the  force  that  has  taken  from  us  the 
body  of  our  loved  one.  As  long  as  our 
dear  one  lives  in  our  thought  he  is  not 
dead. 

[35] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Rebellion,  anguish,  doubt  ;  the  unceas- 
ing questioning  as  to  why  this  sorrow  had 
to  come,  and  what  the  future  holds  of 
reunion  and  joy  and  love!  If  only  we 
would  remember  that  "whatsoever  there 
is  to  know,  that  shall  we  know  some 
day/*  how  soothed  and  happy  we  should 
be.  Those  who  have  gone  before  already 
know  and  are  waiting  behind  the  veil  of 
Eternity,  to  whisper  to  us,  when  we  join 
them,  the  beautiful  secret  of  Life  and 
Death. 

»        *  * 

The  spiritual  world  enfolds  in  its  ample 
bosom  all  the  visible  world.  Our  earth- 
home  is  merely  a  perceptible  point.  Here 
we  play  with  shadows;  there  we  live  the 
reality. 

[  36  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Hourly,  daily,  we  rebel  against  pain. 
It  seems  that  we,  the  bereaved,  are  the 
most  deeply  afflicted  of  all  God's  children. 
We  wonder  why  this  anguish  has  come  to 
us,  and  unceasingly  we  weep.  But  if  we 
only  have  the  strength  to  bear  our  sorrow, 
we  will  find  in  the  end  that  by  it  we  are 
spiritually  ennobled;  that  '  pain  is  no  evil 
unless  it  conquers  us/' 

*        #  # 

Often  when  the  heart  is  torn  with  sor- 
row, spiritually  we  wander  like  a  traveler 
lost  in  a  deep  wood.  We  grow  frightened, 
lose  all  sense  of  direction,  batter  ourselves 
against  trees  and  rocks  in  our  attempt  to 
find  a  path.  All  the  while  there  is  a  path — 
the  path  of  Faith — that  leads  straight  out 
of  the  dense  tangle  of  our  difficulties  into 
the  open  road  we  are  seeking. 

[  37  ] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Let  us  not  weep  for  those  who  have 
gone  away  when  their  lives  were  at  full 
bloom  and  beauty*  Who  are  we  that  we 
should  mourn  them  and  wish  them  back? 
Life  at  its  every  stage  is  good,  but  who 
shall  say  whether  those  who  die  in  the 
splendor  of  their  prime  are  not  fortunate 
to  have  known  no  abatement,  no  dulling 
of  the  flame  by  ash,  no  slow  fading  of 
life's  perfect  flower. 


nr  ^  ^ 


Doubt  not  that  thy  dear  one  lives  im- 
mortally in  Paradise,  with  bright  angels 
for  companions  and  high  tasks  for  accom- 
plishment. 

[38] 


WE  BEREAVED 

Spring  and  autumn ;  seedtime  and  har- 
vest; rain  and  sun;  winter  s  cold  and  sum- 
mer s  heat — everything  changes.  Observ- 
ing the  transience  of  all  things,  why 
should  we  dwell  on  the  ultimateness  of 
death?  Why  should  we  not  face  life  and 
death  alike,  unafraid? 


#        #  # 


For  three  things  I  thank  God  every 
day  of  my  life — that  he  has  vouchsafed 
me  knowledge  of  His  Works,  deep  thanks 
that  He  has  set  in  my  darkness  the  lamp 
of  faith,  deep,  deepest  thanks  that  I  have 
another  life  to  look  forward  to — a  life 
joyous  with  light  and  flowers  and  heav- 
enly song* 

[  39  ] 


HV2335    Keller,  Helen  Adams.  Rc.l 
K  gfl        WE  BEREAVED. 
uJ3S  (1929) 


Date  Due 


ul  !  - 

AMERICAN  FOUNDATION  FOR  THE  BLIND 
>^     15  WEST  l&th  STREET 

NEW  YORK,  N.Y.  10011  " 


Printed  In  U.S.A.